When recruiters turn bad…

I recently started looking for a new work opportunity after my latest contract ended. Originally, it was for 3-6 months but had been extended for almost 1.25 years. No complaints on my end! I worked on some very interesting projects and had the privilege of working with some truly great people.

I updated my resume and sent it out to my industry contacts. I had some very nice opportunities and selected one with a customer, named WVW (<- Name replaced),

The recruiter, let’s name him JT, contacted me and said that the customer was ready for me to start working immediately. I have worked opportunists in the past based on my resume, references and customer referrals and without an interview. Here is what the recruiter emailed me:

“They want you start next week On Monday at 8:30am, NO Interview, just start working. $xxx an hour 1099. Does this work for you. Feel free to call me on my cell tonight.”

The paperwork had been exchanged with the recruiter and his company – let’s call it XYZ (also known as a Really Horrible team), and the contract was signed for a 1 year duration, or so I thought.

I contacted the people I had previously communicated with, telling them I had accepted another position and they could contact me within 6 months.

Monday morning, I arrived at the clients’ location and met JT there for the traditional handover of the contractor. As seems to be the habit with recruiters, he brought breakfast for the team. In this case, it was bagels.

The recruiter left and the customer and I sat down. Let’s call him DF. Instead of telling me about the project I would be working on, DF started to ask me interview questions. I was a bit surprised by this and DF noticed this. He informed me that I would be there for a 2-3 day technical interview/trial period, after which he would make a decision to hire me or not.

I told DF, “JT said I would start working today.” DF told me that they hadn’t even signed a contract with the XYZ recruiting company. He was very uncomfortable with the situation and suggested we end what he was led to believe was a technical interview. Nevertheless DF indicated interest in working together, but DF was so unhappy with this recruiter it would have to be through a different recruiter.

DF was kind enough to forward me the email between himself and JT that clearly showed that the recruiter knew this would be a 2-3 day technical interview/trial period.

“Hi JT,

He (that’s me) was coming in Monday for a two day trial. I just wanted to make sure he would be able to go contract if he was a fit.


Also I am not going to be able to work with him the second day, so I just need him to come in on Monday. I am sure though that that will be enough time to get to know him.”


The response email from JT confirmed a trial period:

“Excellent sounds great. No I can’t do Tuesday. Monday will be plenty of time to jump on him if he’s a fit.



It seems evident from the above exchange that JT understood that he was sending me to a technical interview/trial period. Nevertheless he continued to claim that that he also thought I was starting a job saying,

“I am really sorry about how all this went down this morning. I had no idea. I was under the assumption this was it, and that your were starting. And after I just talked to the client because the Sales rep is out I got a whole different story. THIS IS NOT HOW I DO BUSINESS. I don’t blame you for being furious or mad at me.


Once again I am truly sorry. Please call me I would love to discuss.”

JT invokes the old standby, the unknown/invisible/made-up Sales Rep. So old-school.

In response I sent the following final email to JT and his boss – let’s call him KL:

“Dear KL and JT,


When I left my home this morning I thought it was to start a new job and only learned that it was a two day technical interview and no job upon my arrival at client location. DF informed me that JT with XYZ clearly understood and agreed to a 2 day technical interview while simultaneously telling me that I was already employed at WVW.


This practice is not only an unacceptable way to do business, but I believe unethical. This misrepresentation caused me to turn down many other employment opportunities to accept a job that was not actually on offer.


Though XYZ and I do not have a contract, I feel this misrepresentation forces me to terminate any kind of professional association I have with XYZ. JT, please do not contact me again for any employment through XYZ or any other organization you may be associated with.”

So, what are the lessons here?

  •  If it is a technical interview, or a trial period, over a few days, let the candidate know! It should be my decision if I want to participate in this process or not.
  • DO NOT LIE – Plain and simple. Assume the facts will be revealed. Every time JT repeated that he didn’t know what was going on, even though I had both sides of the story, just made him look more disingenuous. At this point, I feel like I must assume that any and everything he says is untrue. I also have to assume the same for his employer. It is best not to associate with such organizations.
  • If you are hiring somebody and you are given a ‘free trial‘ period, ask the recruiter if the person you are hiring knows about this arrangement. Go ahead and ask the person you are going to hire if they also know about the ‘free trial‘ period.

So, now I have to take the embarrassing step of re-contacting the businesses and people I was in contact with previously to start the process over again, explaining that I while I thought I had accepted a position, I really had not.

One thought on “When recruiters turn bad…

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